The Right Choice . . . For the Rest of Your Life - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The Right Choice . . . For the Rest of Your Life

November 18, 2002

Americus - Henry King Stanford is an active 86-year old and a retired university president who travelled the world with his wife. "She was a great combination of a lady of grace and a spirit of adventure," said Stanford.

Henry and Ruth were married for 65 years, and he said "we had a great marriage." A year and a half ago, Dr. Stanford made a difficult decision. "We moved out, and I got rid of all the stuff we had accumulated over the years."

Ruth was battling cancer and needed around the clock care. Stanford moved into the assisted living center at Magnolia Manor in Americus and moved his wife into the adjacent nursing center. "I really admired the attention Ruth got there," said Stanford.

Magnolia Manor's campus includes everything from independent homes to the 24-hour care nursing center. Admissions Director Sandra Davis says counselors work closely with prospective residents and their families because "they have to be comfortable with their surroundings."

Here's a checklist of things to do to make sure the place you choose is the best fit.

  • #1 Know your loved one's needs and what kind of care they'll require.
  • Make sure a home is licensed and find out what professional care organizations it belongs to.
  • Check inspection reports. Homes must post them on site.
  • Take a pre-arranged tour. Wade Barr, Magnolia Manor's Development Director, says you should also make unannounced visits. "Get the grand tour by whoever's gonna give it, but them come back," said Barr.
  • Make sure you trust the workers. "You want to look for that relationship the staff has with the patients," said Barr.
  • Find out how many staff members there are for each resident.
  • Check out the food.
  • Get a list of activities and physical therapy programs the home offers residents. Davis said, "the more active they are, the better quality of live they seem to have."
  • Be sure you know the costs and financing options.
  • And perhaps most importantly, check references. Barr said, "Talk to other family members that have loved ones in the facility. Talk to the residents. They can tell you."

Dr. Stanford did his homework before moving and knew Magnolia Manor was the best facility for him and his wife. "This has been a great, great place for us," he said.

Mrs. Stanford died earlier this year. Dr. Stanford is convinced her last days were spent in the best possible location. And he's convinced his home is the right choice for the rest of his life.

Just last week, the Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a new program to help you make an informed nursing home choice. It includes quality care information, such as the percentage of residents in a nursing home who suffer from bed sores.

You can also see the most recent inspection reports for every nursing home in Georgia through that website. Nursing homes undergo a full review at least once every 15 months. Inspectors list all violations or deficiencies.

The average number of deficiencies in Georgia is nine. According to the most recent reports, 21 nursing homes in the state had no deficiencies, including Brownwood Nursing home in Moultrie and Waycross Health and Rehabilitation Center in our area.

The results for Albany's two largest nursing homes were among the worst in this region. Palmyra Nursing Home had 28 deficiencies. Inspectors found 21 deficiencies at Albany Health Care.

posted at 5:15 p.m. by ben.roberts@walb.com